Monday, March 30, 2015

Gasping at the Art of Trees

A love of trees stops me dead in my tracks.  Trees of all sorts (except palm trees which do nothing at all except to look tropical) have an angular beauty that leads the eyes up to sky.  Their roots dig deep into the ground, occasionally emerging here and there.

Only recently I stood on a mass of tangled, twisted roots which caught 
my breath, took it away.  The tree is a Fig Tree at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Fallbrook, California.  Here are some photos.

I hope you gasp.

The Moreton Bay Fig Tree was brought to California by an Australian seaman who gave it to a girl, who then planted it. It was originally planted in 1876 up in Santa Barbara area, and then replanted in a warmer spot. Moreton Bay is the source of the seed.  Now these trees are appreciated by all who see them, and are protected.  The tree's canopy is about 198 feet across, the height is 200 ft. or more, and the trunk circumference is about 42 feet.  The observable roots are roughly the same as the tree's canopy. They are a form of banyon trees.  Look again: Take another gasp.  Source of infor
What's that kid doing up there?!!
This fig tree was used in Jurassic Park 1.

p.s. Balboa Park has one spectacular tree, which is now protected with a chain fence to prevent field trip children from climbing on it.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Wednesday Words: Old Miz Guthrie and the Fire

Arsonist squirrel
A moratorium was now placed on church potlucks. The last one caused a flash fire when the Barbeque Pit exploded, sending miscellaneous pork bits and ribs, along with Bob’s Secret Ingredient (lots of whiskey) flaming sauce, flying over to Old Miz Guthrie’s tiny old house.

Old Miz Guthrie heard screaming coming her way, and then smelled the barbeque fire on her roof.  “Oh, Lordy, Lordy!  My house ‘s afire!”  As fast as a squirrel on a live wire, she scampered out the door, wringing her hands while the fire department extinguished the barbeque flickers of flame.

No damage done, Old Miz Guthrie thanked everyone, shushing them away, and hurried back inside.  Looking around at her immaculate, nicely decorated home, she raced down the steps to her basement, which was packed with fire-proof chests of gold coins, jewelry (oh, how she love nice jewelry), and packs of one-hundred bills. 

Unbeknownst to the community, Old Miz Guthrie was quite a spendthrift made possible by her late husband’s last bank robbery in 1955 in Chicago.  I better get outta this town.

The next day her brother Raffert showed up at night with a big van and they moved everything from the basement during the big school dance.  Just before she closed the front door, Old Miz Guthrie turned the cooker on high, with bright flames crawling to a dishtowel.

The town mourned for her. Damned BBQ sauce.


Kudos to Delores at Under the Porch Light!  These six underlined words were a challenge for me this time.  Just could not find a common thread to weave through and tie together.
Moratorium? Congratulations, Delores!  You got me.
Ahem.  If you would like to access her site and read other participants, please click on the lonely grapefruit in the sidebar.  And, please, join this challenge!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Nathan, the 'Gator Man

Some of my family stories are true to the letter, while others have been stretched yet maintain that kernel that started it in the first place.  The following was told to me by my brother, as his son had told him.

Late fall was coming on, with blast of premature snow.   Nathan Peck was a Chicago city engineer who worked with all departments. Nathan has a gift, one of many.  He makes friends, tells awesome stories, and plays the most unimaginable practical jokes on any vulnerable person.

The saran wrap across the toilet seat?  Amateurs.
Change out the black and white keys of the keyboard?  Smirk.

Collecting all the chairs from the waiting room and stacking them in the CEO’s office? Hmph.

In one freezing November in Chicago, Nathan received a call from one of the field workers who reported something that caused Nathan to race out the office and squeal out the parking lot.  

When he arrived, the guys pointed to the frozen specimen of a five-foot alligator, sticking out a drainage pipe. They wrapped orange cord under and around the frozen carnivore, and it took all eight men to dislodge the swamp dweller from the ice.

Monday, March 23, 2015

My A to Z theme

Here it is:  March 23, 2015!  And you are probably wondering about the idea of Themes.

What will be my theme for the A-to-Z? 


Since childhood, I have always been one to watch dust motes in a steam of light.  I was one who asked the Why? And What?  And How? Questions. 

What is under that dime in the grass?  Who lived in this house?

Why does oil float on a puddle and make a swirl of color?

Pollution On Water I Alaska Travel Photos

Why? How? What?

My blog posts will follow the line of observations, random bits of literature, history, and quests…because that is who I am:  A writer, a storyteller, a reader--an adventurer.

Click of the red stage curtains to access a list of other "Reveals".

PS:  I will be following my regular blogging friends--because I would hate to miss what they write.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Wednesday Words: James Marshall

This time of day was just about the only part of life that James Marshall enjoyed: Seeing the West reflected into the East, changing the sky into a sky of molten gold.

James chuckled bitterly…molten gold… His own gold, now long gone, was only brass in his mind.  His mind was filled with what-ifs about the past, when he found gold flakes which had ruined his life, ruined his life but good.
Where Marshall found gold flakes

If only John Sutter had been just a smidgen parsimonious.  Sutter spent money he did not have, borrowed money he could not repay, and lost his own fortune.

Marshall clenched his misshapen hands when he thought about Sutter.  All the work Marshall had done, breaking bones in his hands, and for nothing.  No blessings showered on me then.  Or now.

With all that could have been, Marshall could not gain any traction in keeping his sawmill running. His workers had dropped their tools and picked up pans, went to the American River.  Penniless again.

He pleaded with the California State Legislature and they awarded him with a two-year pension.  What he really desired was some investigative search into the theft of his future.

What if..what if...
 Re-creation of James Marshall's homesteader cabin at the end of his life--
While on a field trip of middle-schoolers, I saw this.  Pretty sparse.

So here he sat, gazing at the dusky sky disappear, before he arose and went into his homestead shack.  If only, if only…

monument to James Marshall in Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park

Thanks go to Delores at Under the Porch Light for challenging writers to create poems, prose, fiction, etc.  Each week Delores provides six unrelated words with which to create something comprehensible, or not.  The underlined words above are the words provided. Please click on the lone grapefruit in the right sidebar to access her site. Interesting stuff, there.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

It Is Time

These are not my boxes--can you imagine if?

Sorting through boxes leads to glimpses back to the past.  It still amazes me to see those glimpses and then to remember when they were important.

Teaching was my profession for two decades leaving me with boxes and boxes of that life stacked on sturdy shelves.  I can open my garage door and look at those boxes, see the labels, and think “Do I still have that?”, and then “Why do I still have that?”

We are contemplating moving—more just contemplating.  Kids are grown and gone.  Their belongings have moved with them, with a few exceptions.

With that, I know I must take a deep breath, gird the loins, and face down the lion, which are those boxes. 

It is time.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Sober St. Patrick's Day?

Spectators lining streets to view St. Patrick's day parade, Ireland, in 1905. Photo from National Library of Ireland.

Today is St. Patrick’s Day.  For some Americans, it is an excuse to get rip-roaring drunk.  Given that a high percentage of those vomiting in some toilet or alley way are in their early twenties (or younger), I think back to times in Ireland when St. Patrick’s Day was considered a Holy Day. 

The Catholic Church and the tourism officials have vacillated on this issue (“Yes: hoist the pint! or No: you can wait till after Lent.) The Irish-Americans held the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan in 1848, while the Irish celebrated with a parade in 1903.

It comes down to politics, really. Until the 70s, there was a ban on selling in pubs on March 17.  In 1995, the tourist industry saw new opportunities to throw open the pub doors for visitors and residents alike.

Many in Ireland observe March 17 as a Holy Day; it falls during Lent and should be give respect.

If I see one more shirt exalting the Irish and its drinking, I will also find a toilet or alley way.

Calls for an end to drinking culture on Paddy's Day. Photo by Photocall Ireland.
Get your Irish on

I'm Irish and I love it!

Everyone is Irish!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Time to pass it on...

When paintings on the walls
Blur and disappear,

It is time
To pass them on,

To New Eyes,

Who will

Joy and wonder
Once felt

By those who give.

blurred gaussian blur

Friday, March 13, 2015

Wednesday Words...Jenny and Jim

The wedding was tomorrow and Jenny was definitely jittery.  Her future mother-in-law was hosting the rehearsal night dinner at her own home, with her future husband Jim requesting his favorite foods for all to enjoy.

“Wait ‘til you taste Mom’s meatloaf—it is her specialty.” 

That alone raised alarms. Jenny had a refined palette while Jim would eat anything, even with a shovel.

They entered Jim’s boyhood home and his mom Ella greeted them warmly.  Jenny was clinging to Jim as she met every relative known to mankind.

Every one sat down as Jim’s dad Harold lifted his glass to toast the couple.  “Here is to Jim and Jenny.  We toast you with this raspberry wine, laid down by Great-Aunt Ethel (who giggled demurely) in 1947.”

Here! Here! And the wine was tossed back, followed by murmurs of pleasure.

Jenny gagged as she tried to swallow, but then spit the wine that had turned to raspberry vinegar,into her linen napkin.  She looked around at these relatives, who nodded in pleasure.   Oh, no…can't they taste that?

The meatloaf, covered with serpentine gelatinous gravy, was served with a glob of creamed peas and lime jello.  Jenny’s stomach gave one big spasm

She gave the meal her best shot, ate a few bites, and then stirred the rest into the heap of green and brown.  When asked why she hadn't eaten, Jenny took a few more bites. 

The plates were removed, only to be replaced by tapioca pudding. 

“This is my favorite!” Jim cried as his mother smiled indulgently.  Jenny cautiously took one bite and then she stood up,  whereupon she covered the relatives with one big blast of projectile vomit.

And that is all there is to say.

Thanks go to Delores at Under the Porch Light for challenging writers to create poems, prose, fiction, etc.  Each week Delores provides six unrelated words with which to create something comprehensible, or not.  The underlined words above are the words provided. Please click on the freezing cardinals in the right sidebar to access her site. Interesting stuff, there.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

St. Patrick and Gravity

I don't drink...

To have “Casual Friday” coincide with St. Patrick’s Day gave Sean real joy.  He had some nice new khaki shorts, new shamrock socks, a new authentic tee shirt, and some old green shamrock underwear he'd had for years. 

tees made as you want

Sean was decked out and ready to go, ready to work, ready to present a power point to some higher-ups…just plain ready.

He didn’t notice any problem until break when the underwear started creeping down.  Sean hiked them up and cursed that he had not thought to wear a belt.

Ten minutes later the damn underwear was creeping even lower, almost to the hem of the khakis.  Sticking his hands into the pockets and grabbing them seemed the most effective thing he could do.

But walking around with hands-in-pockets had some draw backs.  Now having to grip the underwear seemed obscene.  Thankfully, power point time came and the lights went out.

Even so, while he nervously spoke, the underwear gave in to gravity, sagging until each leg sported a curtain effect of shamrock undies.  Only the crotch had any hold on them.

End of power point, still dark, had Sean racing to the men’s room where he stripped off the blasted things.  Time to go commando.   

Monday, March 9, 2015

Miracle made by Many

What was lost, is now found.

Do you know how much Irish dance shoes cost?  No, not the fairy-like soft leather shoes that lace up over white socks (did you know that these socks are actually glued in place, “sock glue”?).  They cost a pittance as compared to the “hard shoe”.

The hard shoe is the stuff of “River Dance” shaking the stage, and costing upwards of $350. 

So imagine my daughter’s distress when one shoe when missing after a big Irish Dance Competition (called a “Feίs”, Fesh) at the Sheraton Hotel in Anaheim, California.  They had called the hotel, who said nothing had turned up.  Many sobs were heard that day.

My husband had a conference the following weekend in Anaheim at an exquisite hotel next to the Sheraton.  Not one to miss some taste of elegance I went with him.   And I popped over to the Sheraton.

Adventures happened, but through the determination of Sheraton’s staff, a house keeper named Maria Luisa recalled finding a shoe last week (huge hotel, hundreds of rooms).

Many thanks go to: Front Desk clerk Anthone, Banquet hall manager Javier, House keeper Maria Luiza, and Lost & Found desk Christine.  When she set the box in front of me and pulled out the lone shoe, it was a miracle.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Wednesday Words: Charlotte

Photo: Spider web sagging with dew
Nat'l Geo
He had been in Charlotte’s house for an indeterminate amount of time, and days blended into each other until there was no distinction. She moved from place to place, always watching him, as if she were a spectral being and not herself.

Being a female, her enhanced spider-like sense could detect his slightest movement and shift.  It was not as if he was dissident in any way; he was just different and destructive.  She stared down at him in wonder.

Wherever he moved, immediate mayhem followed.  Finally Charlotte scooped him up.  “That’s enough for you, Wilbur!  You need a diaper change, and badly.”  They both giggled and Charlotte covered his face with kisses.

An unexpected writer

The above bold underlined words are from Delores at Under the Porch Light
who faithfully provides 6 words and/or a phrase prompt.  Writers can grab those words and take off with a poem, prose, fiction, whatever.  Please click on those frozen cardinals in the sidebar to access her site.  There are some strange people out there.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Old Age is something to share.

In the early years of our parenting, we were either on the floor playing trucks, assembling Legos, changing diapers—daily life.

When children were almost asleep, we watched TV and our favorite shows.  The actors were about our age we guessed, and I don’t know if their hands every touched a diaper, clean or whatever.
Then and now

They exuded everything we were not: glamorous, glittery, or bulgy muscles, and great haircuts.

Recently I discovered something called “Cake Watch” in the newspaper; it is a summation of birthdays of the celebrity clan.
Apparently while we were aging, so were they!  Here are some examples:

In their 80s:  Robert Conrad (Wild Wild West), Willard Scott, John Callum (Northern Exposure), Harry Belafonte, Sophia Loren, Maggie Smith, Sean Connery….

Creaking Bones?

In their 70s: Roger Daltrey, Robert Redford, Patrick Stewart, Jane Fonda, Burt Reynolds, Shirley Maclaine, Chuck Norris, James Caan…

In their 60s: Goldie Hawn, Tom Selleck, Helen Mirren, Jaclyn Smith, Tommy Lee Jones…

This, somehow, reassures me.  Oh, and Justin Bieber is 21.

Monday, March 2, 2015


The road.

The road.

Light and dark.
Growing longer.

Until sun sets